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Mexico City, 23 Mar 06

UN-HABITAT and the African Development Bank (ADB) have signed a landmark Memorandum of Understanding to improve urban water and sanitation in African cities in coming years with Bank funding worth 500 million US dollars.

The memorandum was signed at a special ceremony 19 March during the Africa Regional Day at the 4th World Water Forum in Mexico City by the Executive Director of UN-HABITAT Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka and the President of ADB, Mr. Donald Kaberuka.

In a framework under which UN-HABITAT and African Development Bank will collaborate to facilitate safe water supplies and sanitation in African cities and small urban centers, the ADB and UN-HABITAT will provide grants to the value of about 217 million US dollars over the next five years. It is expected that this will lead to additional opportunities for follow-up fast track loans from the Bank of about 362 million dollars to speed up the water and sanitation target of the Millennium Development Goals. Most countries in Africa are currently falling behind on Target 10 of Goal 7 which seeks “to reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water” by the year 2015.

In 2003, UN-HABITAT set up a Water and Sanitation Trust Fund to provide a fast-track mechanism to cities and small towns and enable them to reach out to the poor. The objective of the Fund is to create an enabling environment to stimulate follow-up investments in water and sanitation with a focus on cities in Africa and Asia. The Trust Fund is the principal funding source for the implementation of the Water for African Cities Programme. Currently 14 African countries have been identified to benefit from this programme. These are: Mozambique, Ethiopia, Zambia, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Ghana, Senegal, Nigeria, Cote D’Ivoire, Mali and Tanzania.

The ADB has a mandate to contribute to the sustainable economic development and social progress of its African member States and has undertaken major initiatives in the water sector in line with its overall goals of poverty reduction and socio-economic development in the Region. In this context, its activities are guided by its Integrated Water Resources Management Policy. It has established the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Initiative, which targets the provision of safe water and sanitation to the rural sector of Africa; and serves as Trustee for the African Water Facility Special Fund.

Under the terms of the memorandum, the Bank and UN-HABITAT will collaborate in several areas, including raising political ownership, and advocacy in specific areas such as resource mobilization in urban and peri-urban pro-poor activities in water and sanitation schemes, security, gender and environmental activities. They will also partner in building local capacity, implementing innovative “learning by doing” demonstration projects, sharing and disseminating information and experiences between the two Institutions as well as among the participating countries.

Finally, the agreement will see the two organizations prepare investment proposals for water and sanitation schemes as well as pro-poor Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers and coordinating aid and advice to recipient countries on common areas of activities.

By combining UN-HABITAT’s experience and strength in areas of advocacy, awareness building, strengthening managerial and institutional capacity and demonstration of new and innovative approaches to development and management of water and sanitation services for the poor with that of the ADB, which has solid sector lending experience in the region, the memorandum will provide a strong partnership for cooperation in supporting the internationally agreed goals for water and sanitation on the continent.

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